Global USB Trends: The Rise of Type-C Connections

Eric Huang

Jul 12, 2018 / 2 min read

USB Trends – Type-C Everywhere

As Tesla Model 3 edges closer to exiting its "Production Hell" and Elon Musk moves away from his "Bet the company" strategies, it's interesting to see how USB Type-C is becoming ubiquitous.

Type-C Everywhere in Mobile Phones

Almost every Android phone now exclusively features the USB Type-C connector. This shift, driven by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and the European Union for about a decade, aims at ease-of-use and reducing e-waste. The EU's goal is to cut down on the 51,000 tonnes of charger waste discarded annually.

For phone manufacturers, Type-C's appeal lies in its smaller form factor, support for faster speeds with USB 3.0/3.1, and reduced electromagnetic interference (EMI) issues compared to the micro-AB connector.
This standardization improves user experience and allows a single cable standard for all phones and tablets, leading to competitive pricing due to high demand.

Phones Use Type-C for Video Display

Phones like the Huawei Mate 10 utilize Type-C to provide both USB and DisplayPort functionalities. This enables the transfer of video from the phone to a screen or projector, requiring only a Type-C adapter for conversion to DisplayPort or HDMI. This feature allows for business travel with just the Huawei Mate 10 and a Bluetooth keyboard.

Type-C Everywhere in PCs

Apple's ultralight laptops have adopted Type-C connectors for years, a trend followed by Google Pixel and Samsung Chromebooks. Windows ultralight laptops also now standardize on USB Type-C, with larger models offering a mix of Type-C and standard-A ports.

Dell and HP, for instance, offer innovative Type-C additions like power bricks with built-in Type-C chargers, allowing users to charge their phones without powering on their PCs or occupying a port on the PC. This not only saves space on the device but also offers versatility in docking stations, which now include both standard Type-A and Type-C connectors.

Docking Stations and Waste Reduction

USB-based docking stations, now standard at Synopsys, are expected to significantly reduce waste, potentially being usable for over a decade. DisplayLink-enabled docking stations, which use pure USB with Type-C without the need for Alternate mode for DisplayPort, are particularly efficient. They ensure compatibility with PCs that don't support this mode yet.

Type-C in Peripherals for Mobile Phones and PCs

With both phones and PCs standardizing on Type-C, it's now possible to use any PC peripheral with Type-C on any phone that supports it, provided the phone has the necessary drivers. DisplayLink demonstrated this interoperability, showing how peripherals can be used across different devices.

The Impact of Type-C

Type-C brings numerous advantages:

  • Enhanced user experience with its simplicity.
  • Reduced costs due to a broader market for Type-C cables and connectors.
  • Increased reliability with a symmetrical connector.
  • Space-saving on PCB and device edges.
  • Reduced e-waste and increased reusability of devices and accessories.
  • New opportunities for mobile phone and tablet chips due to more available peripherals.

In summary, the universal adoption of Type-C across various devices is not just a trend; it's a significant shift towards a more efficient, standardized, and user-friendly digital ecosystem.

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